In last month’s column, I raised the question: What happens in a race where Christians are faced with two morally problematic choices like we are faced with this year? When both candidates are not good, then who should I vote for?
The question hasn’t changed as we get closer to November 8. In fact, it seems that as each day brings us closer to Election Day, additional negative material on both candidates surfaces in the media. I can’t help but think, “How much worse can it get?” It is hard to believe that our country has reached this point where the two choices we have as presidential candidates are so deeply flawed. Certainly God is the only one who can judge the human heart, and I am sure they both are personally well intentioned, but each in their own way, seriously put forth defective ideas and policies when it comes to Catholic Social teaching.
Written in the USCCB document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” are these words: “As Catholics, our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.”
The month of October is Respect Life Month with the theme “Moved By Mercy.” There are many life issues to consider for reflection which speak clearly of the dignity of human life in its many stages. Some of these issues are written into the platforms of the two major political parties and are major concerns in this election year. Human life issues, religious freedom issues, immigration issues and education issues are some of those which are at the heart of the Republican and Democratic Party Platforms. These platforms are presented in this issue of the West River Catholic, on pages 3-4. Please take the time to view them before you vote.
Even though there are many issues in which to consider in any election, Catholics should view them within the context of the hierarchy of truths in Catholic Social teaching which begins with defending innocent human life. There is a vast difference on life issues between the Republican and Democratic Party Platforms — one of life and one of death.
This year’s Democratic Party platform calls for the overturning of the Hyde Amendment, a provision that both parties have voted to include in the federal budget and on other spending bills for many, many years. The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal taxpayer money from being used for abortion. The platform is aggressively pro-abortion, not only in funding matters, but in the appointment of judges who support abortion. It also supports the repealing of the Helms Amendment, which states that “no (U.S.) foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” Conversely, the Republican Party platform is supportive of the Hyde Amendment and has strengthened its support for life by calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, banning dismemberment abortion and opposing assisted suicide.
People may say that the life issue isn’t the only issue to consider. That is true. The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. Therefore, I believe the life issue is the first issue to consider. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights. Without life, none of the other rights matter.
Many of the other issues can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as the best and most effective policies in caring for the poor, the immigrants, taxes, etc. In voting, it is not an either/or scenario. All issues need to be considered. But all issues are not equal. The direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed always by every follower of Jesus Christ.
The health and holiness of our country and our world depends on a deep respect for human life at all its stages from the moment of conception until natural death. The future of our society depends on how we protect that right.
In this Year of Mercy, we are called to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful to us. How will we be moved by mercy if we are not first moved by mercy for the unborn?